You Belong Here


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It was raining. If I didn’t have the subway near me, busking wouldn’t be a possibility today.
Traveling to my busking spot I saw a Chinese musician playing a dulcimer like instrument on the platform at 59th street. He was playing the theme from the ‘Godfather’ movie.

Chinese dulcimer player

Calebe Arruda was playing the violin at the Music Under New York spot at Union Square. This is the first time I heard him play with no taped accompaniment. He is getting better and better every time I see him.
I set on the bench to wait for Calebe to be done playing. I noticed the station had new advertisements on the walls. This time the posters advertised Jet Blue.

New ads on subway walls

As Calebe was packing up and I was setting up, Calebe told me of a known jazz percussionist in Chicago, a friend of a friend, who started to play the musical saw. This percussionist was in the subway (of Chicago), traveling with his musical saw. The police stopped him, questioned him, then beat him up. He died later (not related to the beating).

Calebe Arruda

Albert, the messenger guy, was happy to see me, saying “I haven’t seen you in two weeks!”
Saw Lady: “I go to other subway stations these days”.
Albert: “You belong here!”

Scout, the singer, waved to me.
I noticed there were blank posters hanging from most of the poles in the station. I asked Albert if he knows what’s that about. He said it’s crazy.

A little bit after noon I noticed police officers hanging by one of the public phones hanging on a pole. Policemen came and went, sometimes there were more of them, sometimes less, but they always left at least one officer by the pay-phone. Then two cops carrying a tool box came. All the other officers left. The two cops spread white powder on the phone. They waited a while, then left.

Payphone in subway

Some people gathered around me. A family of four – husband, wife (clad in Muslim garb) and two kids, asked me questions about the musical saw. I asked them where they were from. The husband crossed his arms over his chest in a gesture often seen in hieroglyphics and said: “Egypt”.
Another lady in the crowed said: “I’m from Israel”.
I said: “Your neighbors!”
They were all curious about the musical saw and the Egyptian guy said that the musical saw looks like an oriental instrument to him.

The high school kid named Natalia came to show me her hands – she had a circled star drawn in blue ink on each side of both her palms. She asked me if I know what that is. I said “It’s the star of David, isn’t it?”
Natalia: “No, it’s the Devil’s sign.”
I explained to her that what she drew is a 6 point star. The devil’s star only has five points…

At 3pm Jeremiah Lockwood, the blues guitar player/singer, had a permit to play at the spot. His second child will be born in two months.
I pointed out the blank posters hanging on the poles to him and he said ‘maybe it’s contemporary art” :)

Jeremiah Lockwood

As I was waiting for the elevator I saw Shogo Kubo, the Japanese guitar player, pass by with his busking gear. He was heading towards the #6 train.
On the platform a guy in glasses was playing acoustic guitar and singing.

Shogo Kubo

What made me really happy today: somebody put a ‘New Mexico’ quarter in my donations box. It must have just recently come out.

New Mexico quarter

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One Response to You Belong Here

  1. laurie on May 24, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    what a way cool blog. some buskers i like, somes i don’t like. i think i like saw lady, for sure.

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